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Let’s talk turkey

Recipes that will send the whole family gobbling for Thanksgiving.
/ Source: TODAY

Expert chefs share recipes on how to cook a turkey five ways. Check out the recipes below.


Charlie Palmer's gourmet frozen turkey recipe

Serves 6


14 pound turkey

1 head of garlic, cut in half widthwise

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, peeled and quartered

Assorted herbs, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, sage, marjoram


For the mushroom sauce:

6 cups intense chicken stock (reinforce with vegetables if needed)

1 cup diced white mushroom

1 cup oyster mushroom, torn into thin strips

1/2 cup minced red onion

2 tablespoons chopped tarragon

3 tablespoons All Purpose flour

To roast the bird:

Rinse and dry the turkey thoroughly. Rub the entire turkey with the cut side of the garlic and then massage in the lemon juice. To obtain a nicely golden colored and crisp skin on the turkey it helps to let the skin dry out a bit. This is best accomplished if you complete the garlic and lemon rub the night before and leave the bird uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. After the skin has dried, rub the olive oil over the entire bird and season liberally inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the garlic, onion and herbs loosely into the cavity of the bird. Oftentimes, especially with larger birds, we will wedge a wooden dowel (wrapped in aluminum foil) into the cavity to hold it open. This will shorten the cooking time of the turkey and allow for it to cook more evenly from the inside as well as the out which keeps more of the moisture and juices inside the meat. Place into an oven preheated to 450 degrees. Roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and baste the turkey every 20 minutes or so with the pan drippings. Cook for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

For the sauce

When turkey is done (180 degrees at the center of the thigh) remove to serving platter. Keep warm. Return pan to burner and with a spoon, scrape all the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the mushroom, onion and tarragon. Sprinkle flour evenly over the pan. Stir over high heat for 3 minutes. Add the stock and simmer, stirring frequently for 20 minutes. Check the seasoning and strain into a small sauce pot.


The perfect turkey: Brined and hickory smoked

Serves 12 to 14 Advanced preparation: 16 hours for brining the turkey.

Let’s face it, a lot of bad turkey gets served every Thanksgiving. The problem has less to do with human error than with avian anatomy. The reason is that the delicate white meat of the turkey breast cooks faster than the dark, rich meat of the legs and thighs. So if you cook a turkey to a safe temperature (180 degrees), the breast is almost guaranteed to dry out. There is a way around this problem, however: brine the bird and roast it on the grill. A barbecued turkey has at least four compelling advantages: the low slow heat cooks the bird through without drying it out; it offers the haunting flavor of wood smoke; it takes the fuss and mess outside (liberating your oven for stuffing, roasted chestnuts, and other essential side dishes); and most importantly, it gives you an excuse to spend the afternoon outdoors, beer in hand, bonding with your barbecue buddies. As for brining, this means nothing more than marinating the bird overnight in salt water. By the mystical process of osmosis, the brine moisturizes the meat, adding succulence as well as flavor. For a New England touch-and northern earthy sweetness-I like to add a fillip of Vermont maple syrup.

Tip: The key to brining is not to overdo it. Too much salt or excessive soaking will give the turkey the unnatural texture and flavor of commercial lunchmeats. You’ll need a big pot for brining-I use a stockpot. In a pinch, you could brine the turkey in a clean plastic garbage bag. Note the use of a water filled zip top bag to keep the bird completely submerged.


1 12 pound turkey

For the brine:

1-1/4 cups salt

1 quart hot water

4 quarts cold water

1 cup maple syrup

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a cleaver

10 peppercorns

5 bay leaves

4 strips lemon zest

2 cloves

For basting:

4 to 6 tablespoons melted salted butter

Maple red eye gravy

The night before, unwrap the turkey, remove the giblets from the main and front cavity, and wash the bird inside and out.

Make the brine. Place the salt and 1 quart hot water in a large deep pot and whisk until salt crystals are dissolved. Whisk in the cold water and maple syrup and add the onion, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon zest, and cloves. The mixture should be no warmer than room temperature: if it’s hot or warm, let cool. Add the turkey. Place a large zip top bag filled with cold water on top to keep the bird submerged. Place the turkey in the refrigerator and let marinate overnight.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in center and toss the wood chips on the coals. If using a gas grill, place the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium. If using a smoker, light and set it up according to the manufacturers instructions and preheat to 275 degrees.

Place the turkey on the grate over the drip pan away from the fire. Brush with melted butter. Indirect grill until cooked, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. (Use an instant read thermometer to test for doneness-the turkey is ready when the thigh meat is 180 degrees.) If using a charcoal grill, replenish the coals and wood chips every hour. Baste the turkey with melted butter every hour. If the skin starts to brown too much, tent the bird with foil. On a kettle grill, you’ll probably need to tent the sides closest to the piles of coals. If using a smoker, you’ll need to cook the bird about 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. Serve with the following gravy.

Maple red eye gravy

Makes 3 cups


Turkey is only as good as the gravy you spoon over it. This may be about the best gravy you’ve ever tasted, enriched as it is with smoked turkey drippings, Madeira, and for an unexpected touch, splashes of coffee and maple syrup. Note: the easiest way to defat the turkey drippings is to use a fat separating gravy boat (the sort whose spout comes off the bottom). Fat rises, so when you pour off the drippings, the fat stays in the gravy boat.


2 cups turkey drippings

1 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup Madeira wine

1/4 cup coffee

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons maple syrup

coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Strain the turkey drippings into a fat separating gravy boat. Wait a few minutes, then pour the drippings into a large measuring cup, stopping when the fat starts to come out. Add enough chicken stock to obtain 3 cups.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook until a dark golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the Madeira, coffee, cream, maple syrup, and the turkey drippings with stock. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil, whisking steadily. Simmer the sauce over medium heat until richly flavored and reduced to about 3 cups, 6 to 10 minutes. Correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.


Equipment needed

You’ll need some special equipment to deep fry a turkey. Many people start with a turkey frying “kit” which contains most of the equipment needed for this cooking process. These kits are sold in many supermarkets and other retail outlets. The equipment includes the following:

A burner that hooks to a propane gas tank to heat the oil

A propane tank hose and regulator

A large pot - typically with a 30 quart capacity with stand

A lifting rack to lower the turkey safely into the hot oil and remove it from the pot

A deep-frying thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil

A meat thermometer

Marinade and injector

Oven gloves or mitts

A timer

At least three gallons of peanut oil

Paper towels to remove excess moisture from turkey

A 10 to 12 pound fresh or completely thawed turkey

The process
Always start with a fresh or completely thawed turkey... never use a frozen or partially frozen turkey as it will cause the hot oil to foam and possibly spill. Be sure to remove the giblets and neck from the interior of the turkey before frying.

Marinade instructions

Mix and load Cajun Marinade into an injector. Use about one ounce of marinade for every pound of turkey. Inject marinade into breast, thighs and drumsticks at several points to evenly distribute throughout the bird. Let stand at least 10 minutes prior to cooking.

Most recipes recommend seasoning only on the outside of the turkey. However, Chef Mould finds it just darkens the outside of the turkey and lessens the eye appeal. Since you’ve injected the turkey, you’ve already captured the seasoning on the inside.

If you are not ready to fry the turkey, cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Heat the oil

Heat the oil to 350F. This typically takes about 45 minutes. Make sure to use the deep-frying thermometer to monitor oil temperature. Never leave the oil unattended. Peanut oil will begin to smoke at about 425F. If the oil begins to smoke, check temperature and lower the heat immediately.

Once the turkey has been prepared and marinated and the oil reaches 350F, it is time to place the turkey in the pot and fry it.

Step one: Frying the turkey Place the turkey in the basket, breast side up. Lower the turkey into the hot oil very slowly and carefully while wearing thick gloves or oven mitts. The oil will froth and bubble as it goes in. Be careful the oil doesn’t spill over.

Keep the oil between 325 and 350F. Allow the turkey to cook four minutes per pound (48 minutes for a 12-pound turkey).

Step two: Removing the turkey
After the turkey has fried for the allotted time, shut off the gas to the fryer. Using the oven mitts, lift the fryer basket from the oil. Allow the oil to drain from the bird while holding the basket over the pot.

Step three: Insert meat thermometer Move the basket quickly to a nearby area that has been lined with paper bags or a pan catch in order to avoid dripping oil. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh. It should register at least 180F. You can return the turkey to the fryer if necessary, and cook for an additional five minutes to bring it up to the required temperature. Step Four: Wrap the fried turkey in aluminum foil and let stand for about twenty minutes before carving.

Carry-over cooking will finish cooking the turkey outside the oil, bringing it up to the proper temperature and allowing the juices to circulate back through the meat.

Step four: Clean up
Allow the oil to cool completely before moving the cooking pot or attempting to strain or store the oil.



1 fresh turkey, 15 to 20 pounds

1 to 2 (3-pound boxes of kosher salt

1 cup olive oil

1 cup chopped herb leaves, such as tarragon, thyme, and sage

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

Freshly ground black pepper

3 cups chicken stock

Two days before serving, remove the giblets and neck from the cavities of the turkey and cut off the wing tips; reserve for stock or gravy. Put the turkey into a 5-gallon or larger bucket and add enough cold water (about 3 gallons) to cover the bird. Remove the turkey and set it aside. (This tells you how much water you need to cover the bird). To the bucket add 1 pound salt (roughly 2 cups) for every gallon or so of water and stir to dissolve it well. Return the turkey to the bucket, put it in a cool place, and let sit for at least 8 hours. An unheated garage or porch overnight works fine in cool climates; otherwise remove a shelf from the refrigerator to clear enough space.

The next day remove the turkey from the brine. Dry it thoroughly with paper towels. Discard the brine. Transfer the turkey to a large bowl. Pour the olive oil over the turkey and rub the herbs over the outside and inside of the turkey. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

The day of serving, preheat the over to 450 degrees F.

Scrape off the marinade. Transfer the turkey to a large roasting pan fitted with a rack. Rub the outside of the turkey with 1 stick of butter to coat the entire bird. Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally over the outside and inside of the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Put the turkey into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 325 degrees F.

In a large saucepan melt the remaining 1 stick butter over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let the butter cool. Put a quadruple layer of cheesecloth, about a foot square, into the pan and coat it with the butter. In another saucepan, warm the chicken stock over medium-low heat.

After the turkey has roasted for about 1 and 1 1/2 hours and the skin is turning golden brown, lay the butter-soaked cheesecloth over the turkey breast to keep it moist. Ladle about 1 cup of the chicken stock over the breast. Continue to baste the turkey with the warm stock every hour. Roast the turkey for about 3 hours until a kitchen thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 175 degrees F.

Remove the turkey from the oven and discard the cheesecloth. Transfer the turkey to a platter, cover with foil, and allow it to rest for 1 hour before carving.


Blue corn sticks


2 3/8 ounces butter

3 5/8 ounces cornmeal (blue)

3 ounces all-purpose flour

1/4 ounce baking powder

1/8 ounce kosher salt

1/2 ounce sugar

3/4 whole eggs

3/8 cup milk

1 5/8 each jalapeno, stem, seeds and membrane removed, minced

1/4 bunch cilantro leaves, whole, chopped

3 1/4 cloves garlic, roasted and chopped

In large mixing bowl, whip butter until smooth. Add cornmeal, flour, baking powder, kosher salt and sugar. Continue mixing until all dry ingredients are incorporated.

Add eggs and 3/4 of the milk.

Blend roasted garlic with remaining milk until smooth and add to mixture with chopped cilantro and minced jalapenos.

Fill preheated and greased corn stick molds with mixture and bake at 400 degrees until slightly brown (about 8 to 10 minutes).

Remove from oven, and let set for 5 minutes.

Pop out onto wax paper.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 124 Calories; 8g Fat (57% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 42mg Cholesterol; 272mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 1/2 Starch/Bread; 1 1/2 Fat

Serving Ideas : Serve With Red Pepper Jelly

NOTES : Use a good food release spray for cornstick molds. Makes about 60 small corn sticks.

Candied pecans


1 cup pecan pieces or halves

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

In a saucepan, add pecans, sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and strain pecans from liquid. Sprinkle pecan pieces on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 97 Calories; 0g Fat (0% calories from fat); 0g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 2mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Fruit; 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Jalapeno cornbread sticks


11 ounces whole butter

8 ounces shortening

18 ounces yellow cornmeal

13 ounces all-purpose flour

4 ounces sugar

1 1/2 ounces kosher salt

1 1/8 ounces baking powder

1 quart buttermilk

5 whole eggs

2 whole jalapenos, minced

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening. Add all dry ingredients until well incorporated. Add buttermilk, eggs and minced jalapenos. Mix until smooth. Bake in bread stick molds until golden brown. Let cool.

Maple-butternut squash puree


4 pounds butternut squash (peeled and seeded), cubed

1 each vanilla bean, cut in half

8 ounces butter, cubed

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 each oranges, juiced and zested

In a large sauce pot add together butternut squash and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until squash starts to soften. (don’t boil the water away)

Transfer contents to a large blender and bled smooth (use coution while blending hot liquid)

When puree is smooth return to heat in a clean pan and continue to cook on low heat. Using a rubber spatula to keep the botton from burning. (note this a somewhat long process to thicken the puree) Continue cooking the puree until it get like slightly loose whipped potateos.

When puree has thickend add butter, maple syrup, kosher salt,

Remove vanilla bean and scrape the contents from the center of each side and return to the mixture.

To finish, strain though a chinoise, add orange juice and zest and serve.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 242 Calories; 23g Fat (83% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 62mg Cholesterol; 1646mg Sodium Food Exchanges: 4 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Molasses black pepper glaze


1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup molasses

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons black pepper, cracked

1 tablespoon, dijon mustard

In a small sauce pot, reduce orange juice by half. Then add honey, molasses, brown sugar, black pepper and mustard. Return to a simmer for 2 - 3 minutes.

Per serving: 103 Calories; less than one gram Fat (2% calories from fat); 0g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 34mg Sodium. Food Exchanges: 1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates. Serving Ideas : Great for glazing poultry NOTES : Serving Size as Needed

Seared foie gras and portobella mushroom stuffing


1 9 X 11 PAN corn bread

8 ounces foie gras, diced

1 large onion, peeled and diced

8 cloves garlic, minced

4 large portobella mushrooms (stem&gills removed), diced

2 cups chicken stock

2 whole eggs

1 tablespoon sage, chopped

1 tablespoon basil, chopped

1/2 pound butter, cubed

2 ounces maple syrup bunch scallion, chopped

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Dice cornbread into 2”x 2” pieces and place in large mixing bowl. In a saute pan, saute foie gras until crisp, remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan saute the onions, and garlic in the foie gras fat until translucent then add mushrooms and cook until they start to soften. Remove from heat. Add to the cornbread chicken stock, eggs, sage, thyme, basil, butter, maple syrup, scallions, foie gras and mushrooms and onion mixture. Season with cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Fold all ingredients together, being careful not to overmix. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes or until bread is firm and golden brown.

Per serving (excluding unknown items): 263 Calories; 24g Fat (83% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 116mg Cholesterol; 1495mg Sodium. Food Exchanges: 1/2 Vegetable; 4 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

Serving Ideas : Serve with pork or poultry. try grilling the mushroom.

NOTES : Serving size is 4 ounces. Bake until top is golden brown. Try grilling the mushroom.